What Lisa Marie and Megan Watched Last Night #225: Mommy’s Little Star (dir by Curtis Crawford)

Last night, my sister Megan and I watched Mommy’s Little Star on the Lifetime Movie Network!

Why Were We Watching It?

For the past week and a half, I’ve been visiting my sister Megan and her family.  This is kind of our holiday tradition.  Everyone gets together for Christmas and then, from Christmas Day to New Year, Megan and I catch up and bond and talk about how we’re feeling about the past year and what we’re hoping to get out of the upcoming year.  Plus, we watch a lot of TV and movies!

I’ve always loved watching movies with my family and I especially love Lifetime movies.  (Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten to watch as much Lifetime as usual this year.)  So, when I saw that the Lifetime Movie Network was broadcasting something called Mommy’s Little Star, I literally fell on my knees and begged Megan to stay up and watch it with me.

What Was It About?

12 year-old Olivia (Maja Vujicic) thinks that she’s found a way bring her parents back together.  She’ll become a social media star by posting dancing videos online.  If she can get her mother, Lauren (Rebecca Amzallag), to appear in the videos with her, she’ll become an even bigger star and maybe even win a contest because people love to watch young influencers dance with their moms.

Lauren’s new boyfriend, Aiden (Roderick McNeil), offers to act as Olivia’s agent and to guide her to social media stardom.  Olivia is excited but soon, she becomes so addicted to being popular online that she starts neglect her friends, her schoolwork, and her well-meaning but strict nanny.  Meanwhile, Aiden is actually a con artist who is willing to go to any lengths, including murder!, to get what he wants.

What Worked?

I always enjoy a good Lifetime moral panic film.  This film had the typical Lifetime plot of the handsome but sinister man who was trying to take a daughter away from her loving parents but, to that, it also added a fear that I imagine many parents have, the fear of what their children might be doing online.  One thing that both Olivia’s mom and her father (played by David Lafontaine) had in common is that neither one of them was really sure what it was that Olivia was getting so excited about and watching them, I was reminded of my aunt’s reaction when I first tried to explain to her what Twitter was.  The film suggested that all of the trouble that Olivia and her family go through is worth it because it encourages Olivia to eventually take a break from social media.  It’s all rather silly and campy but that’s what makes Lifetime movies so much fun.

I really enjoyed Roderick McNeil’s performance as Aiden.  He had the whole charming sociopath act down to perfection.

What Did Not Work?

The film missed an opportunity by not having Olivia herself turn evil in her attempts to win the big contest.  Maybe Lifetime had already met their quota for murderous children by the time they got around to Mommy’s Little Star.

“OMG!  Just like me!” Moments

Right after my parents divorced, I had a fantasy that lasted for about two years where they would both come to see me performing with the New York City Ballet and they would be so moved by my dancing that they would get back together.  That never happened, of course, but still, I could relate to what Olivia was trying to do even if I didn’t quite agree with her methods.

Both Megan and I agreed that Rebecca Amzallag, who did a great job playing Olivia’s mother, looked just like our friend Lea so that was kind of neat.  We spent a lot of the film asking ourselves, “Is that what Lea would do?”

Lessons Learned

Social media is evil!

What Lisa Marie Watched Last Night #224: Ice Road Killer (dir by Max McGuire)

Last night, I watched Ice Road Killer on the Lifetime Movie Network!

Why Was I Watching It?

It had been a while since I had last watched a Lifetime movie and, with this year soon to come to a close, I figured that last night would be a good time to start catching up.

What Was It About?

While on her way to pick up her daughter from college, Helen (Sarah Allen) nearly runs over a young woman named Carly (Zoe Belkin).  Carly claims that she’s stranded.  Because the roads are icy and a heavy snow is falling, Helen agrees to give Carly a ride to wherever Carly is going.  Needless to say, Helen’s daughter, Lauren (Erica Anderson), is not amused.

Of course, what Helen doesn’t realize is that Carly and her boyfriend, Boyd (Connor McMahon), are planning on robbing her.  But what Carly and Boyd don’t realize is that they are being followed by a psycho trucker (Michael Swatton), who is looking for revenge.  

What Worked?

For a Lifetime film, Ice Road Killer had some effectively scary moments and some creepy locations.  (The motel where Helen, Lauren, and Carly initially attempted to spend the night was memorably run-down and it brought back some memories of my own childhood road trips.)  The ice, the snow, and the howling wind all added up to create an otherworldly atmosphere and Christopher Guglick’s original score was appropriately ominous.  

Michael Swatton was wonderfully creepy as the psycho trucker.

What Did Not Work?

A huge issue that I had was that Carly and Boyd’s robbery scheme never made sense to me.  Instead of just robbing Helen when she first stopped to pick up Carly, Boyd instead followed behind Helen and Carly while they drove down the icy road.  If you’re going to rob a random driver, it seems like it would make more sense to just do it and make a run for it instead of dragging it all out.

Another issue that I had was with the idea that anyone, in the year 2022, would actually pick up a hitchhiker, especially someone like Helen who had reason to not trust people in general.  I get that the weather was bad but still, it seems like a stretch that Helen would give Carly a ride, arrange for Carly to spend the night in a motel with Helen and her daughter, and then leave Carly — a total stranger — alone with the $500 that Helen could not afford to lose. 

You always have to be willing to suspend your disbelief when it comes to Lifetime films, that’s usually a part of the fun.  This film just asked you to suspend it even more than usual.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

I am a fairly compassionate person and I do believe in helping those in need but there’s no way in Hell that I would ever pick up a hitchhiker, regardless of how bad the weather conditions are.  If I see a person stranded on the side of the road, I might feel bad for them but I’m still not going to let them get in my car.  I might encourage someone driving behind me to pick them up but I’ve seen too many horror films to make that mistake myself.  So, I couldn’t relate to that part of the film.

However, I also don’t drive well in cold weather.  When Helen ran her car off the icy road and nearly ran over Carly, I could totally relate to that.

Lessons Learned

Don’t pick up hitchhikers and by nice to truck drivers!

What Lisa Marie Watched Last Night #223: Black Eagle (dir by Eric Karson)

Last night, I watched the 1988 “action” film, Black Eagle!

Why Was I Watching It?

Last night, I watched Black Eagle as a part of the Monday Action Movie live tweet.  Going into the film, I knew that it starred Sho Kosugi and Jean-Claude Van Damme and that was enough for me.  As the film started, I was happy to see that it took place in Malta.  I spent the summer after I graduated from high school in Europe and I spent a few days visiting Malta, its museums, and especially its beaches.  I have good memories of the Malta days and especially the Malta nights.

What Was It About?

I’m not really sure what the film was about.  I watched all 100 minutes of it and, as far as I could tell, an American airplane crashed off the coast of Malta so the CIA brought in Ken Tani (Sho Kosugi) to dive into the sea and retrieve something important from the plane.  However, a Russian named Andrei (Jean-Claude Van Damme) also wanted whatever it was that was on the plane so he and his people ended up chasing Ken all over Malta, an island that I have visited.

Ken was also on vacation so, when he wasn’t killing people, he was hanging out with his two sons, Brian (Kane Kosugi) and Denny (Shane Kosugi).  The CIA helpfully sent along one of their agents, Patricia Parker (Doran Clark), and she acted a sort of nanny while Ken was busy fighting the Russians.  Also helping Ken was a Jesuit (Bruce French) who also happened to be an explosive expert.  I don’t think the Vatican would approve of a priest blowing up boats and building but everyone knows better than to argue with a Jesuit.

What Worked?

Jean-Claude Van Damme didn’t really do much in this movie but he still looked good and he got to do the splits a few times.  In fact, it was kind of funny to watch him actively search out any possible excuse to do a split.  I had a lot of fun imagining that Andrei only became an international spy so that he could show off his gymnastic abilities.  It’s too bad he missed out on Gymkata.

The Maltese scenery was lovely, even if the film itself was a bit grainy.  Have I mentioned that I’ve been to Malta?

What Did Not Work?

Oh, that Sho Kosugi.  He was great when he was fighting people and tossing them off of buildings but whenever he had to actually deliver dialogue and try to show emotion …. AGCK!  There’s a reason why Sho Kosugi’s most popular American films — Enter the Ninja, Ninja III: The Domination — feature him playing a villain.  Even when Kosugi was acting opposite his children, he seemed to be in a fairly bad mood.

At one point, Ken asked the priest how he became an expert in demolitions.  “Ever hear of a place called Vietnam,” the Jesuit replied and I groaned as I realized that Ken had made one of the biggest mistakes of his life.  If there’s one thing that I understand as a result of being raised Catholic, it’s that you never ask a Jesuit for his origin story unless you’ve got a few hours to kill.

To be honest, the film could have used even more scenes about Malta, a lovely place of which I have many good memories.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

I’ve been to Malta.

Lessons Learned

Definitely go to Malta if you get a chance.

What Lisa Marie Watched Last Night #222: Banzai Runner (dir by John G. Thomas)

Last night, I watched the 1987 film, Banzai Runner!

Why Was I Watching It?

Last night, it was my turn to host the #MondayActionMovie live tweet!  The loyal members of MAM trusted me to find an exciting, action-filled movie with which they could start their week.  I failed.

What Was It About?

Listen, it’s not totally my fault.  I checked with the IMDb.  I checked Wikipedia.  I read the film’s description on YouTube.  They all said that the film starred Dean Stockwell as a cop who goes undercover to bring down a group of wealthy street racers.

And technically, that is what the film’s about but only at the very end.  Before we get around to any of that fun stuff, the film is basically just Highway Patrolman Billy Baxter (Dean Stockwell) driving around the desert and trying to keep his dumbass nephew, Beck (John Shepard), from getting into trouble.  How big of a dumbass is Beck?  He’s so dumb that he lights up a joint while he’s driving and while his uncle — the policeman — is sitting right next to him.  Needless to say, Billy gets upset about that.  (The scene is amusing if — and only if — you know that Dean Stockwell was one of Hollywood’s most prominent hippies.)

Eventually, Billy and Beck do go undercover to take out Syszek (Billy Drago), a wealthy drug dealer who likes to street race but who also does to much cocaine.  In a coincidence that comes out of nowhere, it turns out that Syszek is responsible for the death of Billy’s brother and Beck’s father.  Neither Billy nor Beck really seem to be too upset about it, though.

What Didn’t Work?
(Usually I like to start with what did work but I’m making an exception here.)

It’s an 84 minute film (not counting the end credits).  It takes 60 minutes for Billy to go undercover.  It takes another 5 minutes or so for Billy to actually meet Syszek.  The only reason that anyone is going be watching this film is because they want to see Dean Stockwell and Billy Drago race against each other but that part of the film doesn’t even kick in until the movie is nearly over!  Instead, we get an hour of Billy aimlessly doing his job and Beck complaining about his uncle being too strict.  It’s very slow and dull.

Dean Stockwell was a good actor who gave some wonderfully eccentric performances in his adult years but he’s miscast as Billy.  John Shepherd played Tommy in Friday the 13th: A New Beginning and I’ve always preferred Shepherd’s interpretation of the character over Thom Matthews’s performance in Jason Lives.  Shepherd had an appealing vulnerability in A New Beginning but none of that is present in Banzai Runners.  It doesn’t help that the script portrays Beck as being a combination of every bad boyfriend I had from the sixth grade through my senior year of high school.

What Worked?

I’m a Southern girl and I’m also enough of a country girl that I do have a weakness for fast cars and the people who drive them.  So, I could appreciate the film on that level.  The car chases were fun, I just wish that there had been more of them.  All of those scenes of Billy worrying about paying his mortgage (and yes, that was a huge subplot during the first hour of the film) should have been edited out and replaced with scenes from The Wraith.  Or maybe just the Shangri-Las singing Leader of the Pack.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

There’s a scene where the rich daughter of one of the racers announce that she’ll remove a piece of clothing for every mile that Beck goes over 55.  On the one hand, it’s a scene that feels like it was lifted from a Crown International cheerleader film.  On the other hand …. well, like I said, I had a weakness for bad boys who drove fast cars.  So, even in this rather bland film, I still found someone to whom I could relate.  Yay!

Lessons Learned

Never assume that a movie is exciting just because of its name.

What Lisa Marie Watched Last Night #221: Drawn Into the Night (dir by Bill McAdams, Jr.)

Last night, Erin and I started to watch a film called Drawn Into The Night on Tubi.  Erin abandoned the film after 10 minutes but I stayed for the whole thing!

Why Was I Watching It?

According to the film’s description on Tubi, the film was about a cop who goes undercover in a high school in order to investigate the disappearance of three cheerleaders.  I love film about undercover high school cops and I figured that Erin would enjoy critiquing whether or not the film was an accurate representation of the high school cheerleader experience.  Anyway, Erin stopped watching after 10 minutes but I stuck with the film because I feel guilty whenever I stop watching a movie before the end credits start.

After the film was finished, I did a little research and I discovered that Drawn Into The Night (which Tubi claimed was a 2022 release) was actually a heavily edited version of a 2010 film called A Lure: Teenage Fight Club.   Teenage Fight Club was a little over 90 minutes long.  Drawn Into The Night had a running time of 67 minutes.  Just judging from the reviews that I read of Teenage Fight Club, it would appear that a lot of nudity and excessive violence was edited out of the film that became Drawn Into The Night.  That’s fine by me.  I love a good thriller but I’ve grown a little bored with violence for the sake of violence.

What Was It About?

After three high school cheerleaders mysteriously disappear, a detective named Maggie (Jessica Sonneborn) goes undercover as a high school student.  She joins the school’s field hockey team and makes a quick frenemy out of spoiled Brittany (Augie Duke).  An invitation to a rave turns out to instead be an invitation to be forced to take part in a teenage fight club, where the fights are to the death!

What Worked?

The film was short.  That may sound like a back-handed compliment but, after sitting through countless films that rua over two hours despite not having enough story for 30 minutes, it was kind of nice to see a film that wrapped everything up in 67 minutes.  Of course, some of that is because this was a heavily edited version of a longer film but no matter.  It still worked!

The film had some nicely atmospheric shots of people running through the night, often being pursued by an inbred hillbilly.  Some of those scenes had a dream-like intensity to them.

Augie Duke gave a good performance as the hilariously self-centered Brittany.

What Did Not Work?

Because of the way the film was edited, there were several continuity errors.  One character, in particular, is seen in one location just to be show up in a totally different location one jump cut later.  I’m going to guess the original version of the film included a scene of her arriving at the different location.  In the edited version, she just appears to teleport from place to place.

Maggie going undercover would have been more interesting if not for the fact that all of the high school students already appeared to be in their 20s.  Despite the fact that three cheerleaders had mysteriously vanished just a few days previously, none of the other students at the school seemed to be the concerned about it.  At my high school, if someone popular was kidnapped, people definitely would have been talking about it.

The identity of the main villain seemed to come out of nowhere but I am, once again, going to assume that’s because of how this version of the film were edited down from the original version.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

One character has asthma and you better believe that I was cringing when she was trying to catch her breath while running away.

I did sneak out to a few all-night parties when I was in high school and I usually did ruthlessly critique the type of car my older friends drove so I could definitely relate to Brittany.  But I’m happy to say that I was never forced to take part in a teenage fight club.

Lessons Learned

When there’s a kidnapping spree going on, don’t accept invitations to parties in the middle of nowhere.

What Lisa Marie Watched Last Night #220: Deadly Yoga Retreat (dir by Brian Herzlinger)

Last night, I watched the Lifetime film, Deadly Yoga Retreat!

Why Was I Watching It?

I watched this film for a number of reasons.  First off, yoga has been on my mind lately because, over the past two weeks, I have managed to strain my back not once but twice!  My mom also had trouble with her back and she was a big believer in yoga as something more than just an excuse to wear a cute outfit.  Myself, I have to admit that the outfit has always been the main appeal to me.

Secondly, the film was on Lifetime and it’s been a while since I’ve gotten to sit down and watch a good Lifetime film.

Third, I wanted an excuse to do one of my What Lisa Marie Watched Last Night reviews.  I have fun writing them.

What Was It About?

Remy Morrow (Jonathan Bennett) runs the most exclusive and demanding yoga retreat out there.  He expects you to show up on time.  He expects you to take yoga seriously.  He expects you to take him seriously.  If you don’t take him seriously, he’ll kick you out of the group.  And, if that’s not enough to get rid of you, he’ll just kill you.  Killing people over yoga?  That may sound extreme but Remy’s an extreme guy.

Isabella (Danielle C. Ryan) may just be planning on using the yoga retreat as a way to get away from her struggling marriage but she’s about to discover that Remy has his own plans for her and the other students.

What Worked?

Like many recent Lifetime film, Deadly Yoga Retreat takes a deliberately campy approach to its story.  It’s not meant to be taken seriously and Jonathan Bennett brings exactly the right sensibility to his performance as Remy, playing him as being the unhinged yoga instructor from Hell.  There’s not a single subtle moment to be found in Bennett’s performance but this isn’t a film that calls for subtlety.  This is a film that calls for someone willing to totally embrace the melodrama and go over the the top and, as anyone who saw him on Celebrity Big Brother can tell you, Bennett is certainly willing to do that.  Bennett’s approach was nicely balanced by Danielle C. Ryan, who was likable as Isabella.

When you sit down to watch a film called Deadly Yoga Retreat, you know what you’re getting into.  If there’s anything that I don’t have much use for, it’s people who act all offended or shocked that a movie like this would turn out to be deliberately campy and kitschy.  This is a Lifetime film and it’s about a psychotic yoga instructor.  You knew what you were getting into when you saw the title.  The title promises attractive people in cute outfits doing dangerous and sexy things in a lovely, beach-filled location.  Here’s the important thing: Deadly Yoga Retreat delivers exactly what it promised.

What Did Not Work?

As far as I’m concerned it all worked.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

My best friend Evelyn and I occasionally went to a yoga class when we were in college.  The instructor was intense, though not murderous.  He always used to say stuff like, “Yoga is for lovers” and “This weekend should be all about you, yoga and a lover.”  Actually, he was pretty  creepy.  Anyway, he always used to get annoyed because we would giggle through his class but I don’t think he ever killed anyone.

Lessons Learned

Don’t say “Namaste” unless you mean it.

What Lisa Marie Watched Last Night #219: Saved By The Bell: Hawaiian Style (dir by Don Barnhart)

Yesterday evening, I watched the 1992 made-for-TV movie, Saved By The Bell: Hawaiian Style!

Why Was I Watching It?

Eh.  It was on Netflix.  I was thinking about all of the fun that I had when I visited Hawaii.  I had just posted my review of Dustin Diamond’s Behind The Bell and I was feeling a little guilty about some of the things I wrote about him.  I saw the film was available to watch and I thought, “Why not?”

What Was It About?

The Saved By The Bell gang is spending their summer vacation in Hawaii!  Kelly’s grandfather (played by “special guest star” Dean Jones) owns a hotel but …. uh-oh!  It looks like the hotel is going to go out of business unless Zack and the gang can fool a bunch of principals (led by their principal, Mr. Belding) to check in.

Along with trying to save the hotel, each member of the Gang gets an adventure of their own!

Zack (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) falls for a single mother (Rena Sofer), who has a rich boyfriend who owns a limo.  Zack thinks the guy is shallow and is unimpressed with his wealth.  Zack Morris, class warrior?  Whatever.

Kelly (Tiffani-Amber Theissen) falls for her grandfather’s lawyer, not knowing that he’s actually working for the rival hotel.

Jessie (Elizabeth Berkley) and Slater (Mario Lopez) try to spend the entire vacation without fighting.

Lisa (Lark Voorhies) makes a bet that Jessie and Slater can’t spend the entire vacation without fighting.

And Screech (Dustin Diamond) is mistaken for a deity by a Polynesian tribe.

Wait, what?

What Did Not Work?

It’s Saved By The Bell …. without a laugh track!

Unfortunately, Saved By The Bell was one of those shows that really needed a laugh track because, without the sound of an audience being ordered to laugh, it becomes next to impossible to ignore just how lame most of the jokes are.  Though the cast of Saved By The Bell featured a few talented actors, every single one of them still delivers their Hawaiian Style lines as if they’re waiting for the laughter that never comes.  As a result, every “laugh line” is followed by an awkward pause.

As for the show’s plot …. well, let’s put it like this.  Traditionally, I start out these posts by discussing what worked before then discussing what didn’t.  However, so little works with Saved By The Bell: Hawaiian Style that I felt like it was best to get all of the negative stuff out of the way early.  While Saved By The Bell always required a healthy suspension of disbelief, Hawaiian Style abuses the privilege.  Saved By The Bell Hawaiian Style asks us to believe the following:

  1. Kelly would be allowed to travel all the way to Hawaii without her parents.
  2. She would be allowed to take along all of her friends, who would also be traveling without parents.
  3. Screech would somehow be invited, despite the fact that no one in the group seems to like him.
  4. Somehow, their high school principal would also turn up in Hawaii at the exact same time.
  5. A single mother would dump her rich boyfriend for a high school junior.
  6. Screech would be mistaken for a Hawaiian God.

Of course, I guess some would say that we should be happy that the Gang was around to save the day but it’s hard not to notice that all of Zack’s schemes are dependent upon some terrible lie.  As well, I have to wonder if it was really worth all the trouble to save Kelly’s grandfather’s hotel.  I mean, maybe the guy just wasn’t a very good businessman.  I would probably be annoyed if I was on vacation in Hawaii with my friends and I was told that I would be spending the entire time working because some guy who was 50 years older than me couldn’t figure out how to balance the books.

This movie apparently aired on primetime television.  I wonder how viewers who didn’t know about Saved By The Bell felt when they came across it.

What Worked?

As bad as it was, it was also Saved By The Bell and, as a result, it did have some nostalgic appeal to it.  After the movie aired, Saved By The Bell: Hawaiian Style was sold into syndication as four regular episodes of Saved By The Bell and I can still remember seeing them on whatever channel Saved By The Bell was airing on at the time and thinking to myself, “What the Hell?”

The film was shot on location so, needless to say, the scenery was lovely.  Mario Lopez and Elizabeth Berkley had a few fun moments as Slater and Jessie tried to go the entire trip without fighting.  There were small pleasures to be found.  Very small.

“OMG!  Just like me!” Moments

When I was seventeen, I spent the summer in Hawaii with my mom and my sisters.  It was a lot of fun.  Though I don’t swim, I still had a lot of fun laying out on the beach.  Hawaii is one of the most incredibly beautiful places that I’ve ever seen.  I would sneak out at the hotel at night and then marvel at the scenery during the day.  It was one of my favorite summers.  Of course, I also didn’t have to spend my vacation helping a bad businessman save his resort.  That helped.

 Lessons Learned

Apparently, I’ll watch anything.

What Lisa Marie Watched Tonight: The Love Boat 2.7 “Ship of Ghouls” (dir by Roger Duchovny)

Today, after I finished up Halloween, I switched over to MeTV and I watched a Halloween episode of that very 70s series, The Love Boat!

Why Was I Watching It?

A special Halloween episode of the silliest television series ever!?  And one featuring Vincent Price as an illusionist!?  How couldn’t I watch?

What Was It About?

For the ship’s Halloween cruise, the Amazing Alozno (Vincent Price) has been hired to do his act.  He’s quite the illusionist.  Through a combination of hypnotism and magic, he transforms the ship into a magical wonderland where people turn into donkeys and the pool briefly appears to be a giant ice cream sundae.  But will Alonzo also be able to conjure up love or will he continue to ignore his devoted fiancée and instead, only worry about keeping his fans happy?

Meanwhile, a model (Barbara Anderson) who is recovering from a serious car accident has absolutely no use for illusion.  She just wants to stay in her cabin but her friend, who also happens to be the cruise director, demands that she enjoy the cruise.

What Worked?

Vincent Price as an illusionist!?  Hell yeah!  Okay, the illusions were kind of dumb and never really made sense and the show never actually explained how he could turn Gopher and Doc into donkeys but …. well, isn’t the silliness kind of the point?  The important thing is that he was Vincent Price and he appeared to be having time of his life.  Good for him!

Barbara Anderson actually gave a pretty good dramatic performance as the model.  Admittedly, it did feel a little strange to have this extremely dramatic story playing out beside scenes of Vincent Price turning people into donkeys and transforming the ship’s pool into a giant ice cream sundae but again, I guess that was kind of the appeal of the show.  It’s all weird and somehow, it works.

The boat, incidentally, looked really nice.  I’m going to take a cruise now.

What Did Not Work?

On the Love Boat, everything works!

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

I could relate to the model and before anyone rolls their eyes, allow me to explain.  When I was 19, I was in a pretty serious car accident.  The car that I was in flipped over and I basically ended up upside down in the driver’s seat, surrounded by broken glass.  Later, I was told that, when people saw the damage the car, they assumed that I had to have died.  Instead, I only got a few scrapes, bruises, and cuts.  I ended up with two permanent scars — a small one on my hand and then another one on the side of my neck.  And for years, I was so self-conscious of that scar on my neck, even though it faded quickly and I now realize it was barely noticeable.  I obsessed on it, though, both because I disliked having it and also because it reminded me of a traumatic event.  All the angst and worrying that I did about it seems kind of silly now.

Lessons Learned

Love won’t have to hurt anymore.  It’s an open smile on a friendly shore.

What Lisa Marie Watched Last Night #217: Degrassi: The Next Generation 3.16 “Take on Me” (dir by Phil Earnshaw)

Last night, I watched a classic episode from the 3rd season of Degrassi: The Next Generation, Take On Me!

Why Was I Watching It, eh?

A few days ago, when I wrote my review of R.L. Stine’s Trapped, I started thinking about how much I love Degrassi‘s take on The Breakfast Club.  That led to me getting out my Season 3 DVD and watching Take On Me!

What Was It Aboot?

This episode originally aired on February 16th, 2004.  It’s the weekend in Canada but instead of watching a hockey game and studying the dual languages of their native country, five Degrassi high school students are serving detention.  Ellie Nash (Stacey Farber) skipped school.  Hazel Aden (Andrea Lewis) used the school computers to look up porn.  Jimmy Brooks (DRAKE! — back when he was still known as Aubrey Graham) and Toby Isaacs (Jake Goldsbie) hacked into the school’s computers in an attempt to change Jimmy’s grades.  And rebel Sean Cameron (Daniel Clark) is in detention because he’s suspected of being a part of a gang of thieves who are terrorizing the entire school!

Together, the five students talk about their different cliques, play truth or dare, and sneak up to the roof.  Ellie and Sean start to fall for each other but how will Sean react when he discovers that Ellie has a secret motive for being in detention?

What Worked:

This is one of those episodes of Degrassi that you either love or you hate. You either can’t believe how blatantly the show ripped off The Breakfast Club or else you watch it and go, “Oh cool, they’re ripping off The Breakfast Club!”

Myself, I love this episode!  Not only does it center on two of my favorite characters, Ellie and Sean, but it’s also the start of the Ellie/Sean romance!  Unfortunately, the Ellie/Sean romance would only last a few episodes but they were a great couple.  Stacey Farber and Daniel Clark had a really great chemistry in their scenes together, as can be seen in this episode when they go up to the roof and they talk about thievery and self-harm.  The scene where Ellie shows Sean the scars on her arm is one of the best in the history of Degrassi.

This episode also features one of my favorite Degrassi exchanges.  When Ellie says she’s in detention for skipping school, Jimmy deadpans, “Wow, that’s a great story, Ellie.”  It’s just the way the line is delivered.

What Did Not Work:

There’s this really weird subplot involving the principal, Mr. Radish (Dan Woods).  Radish is at the school to supervise detention.  He brags about how it’s all a part of his new “no tolerance” policy for misbehavior.  However, Archie “Snake” Simpson (Stefan Brogren), the media arts teacher, stops by the school and tells Mr. Radish that there’s more to life than just following rules.  Sometimes, tolerance is a good thing.

At the end of the episode, a chastised Mr. Radish tells the detention kids that he’s just trying to do the right thing.  He suddenly decides to show some tolerance and he lets everyone go home early.  The thing is, though — Sean was stealing things from the school.  And Jimmy did bully Toby into trying to change his grades and Toby did hack into the school’s computer.  Hazel and Ellie were both in detention for minor reasons but the three guys actually did some serious things wrong.  Their behavior was exactly the sort of thing that would get most students in a lot more trouble than just weekend detention.  If anything, Mr. Radish was being nice by just having them give up a few weekends as opposed to calling the cops.

Finally, the end of the episode reveals that Ellie was actually working undercover for the local news station, for a story they were planning on doing about the thefts at the school.  But why would a big city news station care about such a minor crime and whose bright idea was it to get the story by putting an emotionally vulnerable teenage girl in potential danger by sending her in with a tape recorder?  And couldn’t they have at least given Ellie a less bulky tape recorder?  It’s almost like they wanted her to get caught.

“Oh my God!  Just Like Me!” Moments

Honestly, every single minute of every single episode of Degrassi is pretty much an “Oh my God!  Just like me!” moment, as far as I’m concerned.  That said, I always related the most to Ellie.  We both have red hair.  We both spent a good deal of high school dressed in black.  We both went through a cutting phase and a rubber band on the wrist phase and I’ve always appreciated the sensitive way that Degrassi handled that subject matter.  (Whatever flaws it may have had, Degrassi was way ahead of its time when it came to dealing with anxiety.)

I especially related to Ellie in this episode, both because I always ended up crushing on the sensitive rebels like Sean Cameron and I also got assigned detention a few times.  Of course, I always skipped detention because I was really into the whole “No one’s going to tell me what to do” thing.  Strangely, I never got in any trouble for not showing up to detention and I always wondered if everyone regularly skipped or if it was just me.

Lessons Learned

There’s nothing more fun and emotionally rewarding than weekend detention!

What Lisa Watched Last Night #216: The Danger Next Door (dir by Bill Corcoran)

Last night, I watched the latest Lifetime film, The Danger Next Door!

Why Was I Watching It?

Because it was on Lifetime, of course!  It’s been a while since I’ve gotten a chance to watch a Lifetime film on the night that it aired.  Seriously, my DVR is full of Lifetime films right now and waiting for me to dig into them come November.

What Was It About?

After getting mugged, pregnant Robin (Hannah Emily Anderson) and her husband, Ben (Jake Epstein) move to a small town.  At first, the town seems perfect but it’s hard not to notice that their next door neighbors, Guy (David Ferry) and Sharon (Kyra Harper), are a little bit too friendly.  Anyone who has watched a Lifetime film knows that no one that nice can be trusted and that’s certainly the case here.

What Worked?

I always love a good “small towns are evil” Lifetime film so, in that regard, The Danger Next Door delivered exactly what I wanted.  The town was pretty, the houses were big, and the melodrama was embraced.  Yay!

The film also featured Jake Epstein, playing a sympathetic character for once!  Epstein previously played Craig Manning on Degrassi.  I’ve seen him in a lot of other movies and shows since then but he’ll always be Craig to me!  Craig was one of the best characters on Degrassi, a bipolar musician with drug problems and a habit of breaking everyone’s heart.  I always hoped that Craig and Ellie would get together, though I do think Ashley was Craig’s soul mate.  Anyway, where was I?  Oh yeah, Jake Epstein was in this movie and it was good to see him!

What Did Not Work?

Towards the end of the movie, there were a few plot twists that demanded a lot of suspension of disbelief, even for a Lifetime film.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

I have never been mugged but, when I was 16 years old, the house that I was living in was burglarized.  My mom, my sisters, and I woke up one morning to discover that the garage door was open, the microwave was missing, and someone had emptied out my mom’s purse.  Even more than that, though, they stole our feeling of being secure in our home.  I had nightmares for weeks afterwards and I even took to sleeping with a baseball bat next to my bed.  However, the bat was a bit heavy so, after a few days, I switched it out for a golf club.

One night, I thought I heard someone creeping outside my bedroom door at 3 in the morning.  I got up, grabbed my golf club, and creeped over to the door.  I took a deep breath, raised the club over my head, threw the door open, and swung at the first dark shadow that I saw.

“What the Hell, Lisa Marie!?” Erin exclaimed, as she (rather easily) avoided the club.

Looking back at it, I’m glad that I didn’t hit my sister in the face with a golf club.  I would have felt bad about that.  But there’s no worse feeling than having some stranger invade your personal safe place.  All these years later, I’m still a fanatic when it comes to locking all the doors, checking all the windows, and making sure I’ve got a golf club near the bed.

The movie did a good job of capturing that trauma.  I could definitely relate to Robin’s fears.

Lessons Learned

Never move to a small town.  No matter how bad and scary the city gets, it’s still safer than living in a small town.